Espanyol take on Real Madrid on Sunday, October 2, in a La Liga match that will test Real Madrid’s resolve, in a season in which they are yet to win away from home, after their opening encounter at Zaragoza. Contrast that with Espanyol’s 100 percent record at home, at Estadi Cornella-El Prat, and we have all the makings of an intriguing encounter.
Real Madrid have won just one game on the road, this season; that win came in their season opener against Zaragoza, which Mourinho’s wards won by a 6-0 score-line. But the squad will be gung ho ahead of the game after beating Ajax in the Champions League encounter, midweek. Last season, they ground out a 1-0 victory at Espanyol, after being reduced to 10 men for most of the match.
Head to head, in 34 matches between the sides, Real Madrid have won 23 games, while losing seven and drawing the remainder. the last match between them came in February this year, when real Madrid prevailed by 1-0 on the back of first half goal by Marcelo.
Espanyol have played two previous games at home this season, against Athletic Bilbao and Getafe, respectively, and they have won both those games. Espanyol will not have the services of Jordi Amrat and Walter Pandiani, with both players serving suspensions. They are likely to be replaced by Ernesto Galan and Javi Marquez, in the home side’s starting eleven.
Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho has some injury woes to contend with. Pepe, Pepe, Fabio Coentrao and Nuri Sahin continue to be indisposed. To add to Mourinho’s selection problems, Angel Di Maria is out, serving a suspension. However, he is likely to have Kaka in his starting eleven against Espanyol after the Brazilian’s brilliant performance in the Champions League game, midweek.
Real Madrid are also likely to miss the services of Karim Benzema who has a groin injury, though he could be subjected to a late fitness test. In Benzema’s absence, Gonzalo Higuain is expected to lead the attack.
Under Pochettino, who has been at the helm of the Catalan side since 2008, Espanyol have played attacking football. This could prove risky against Real Madrid who are capable of capitalising on the slightest blunder. The best strategy for the Barcelona side would be narrow down the playing space for Real Madrid, and deny them the full width of the pitch that would make it a one-sided encounter.
Espanyol’s probable eleven: Alvarez, Moreno, Forlin, Galan, Didac Vila,Javi Lopez, Romaric, Javi Marquez, Verdu, Rui Fonte, Sergio Garcia
Real Madrid’s probable eleven: Casillas, Ramos, Carvalho, Varane, Marcelo, Xabi Alonso, Khedira, Ronaldo, Ozil, Kaka, Higuain
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Jinxatious is the Chief Editor of SportingAttitude.com
An avid writer, on an eclectic range of subjects, he brings to bear editorial experience garnered with a national newspaper in South-East Asia. He also has sportscasting experience, as a cricket commentator, and his passion for sport extends beyond Cricket, to Football, Tennis, and Olympic Sports.